Straining Out The Gnat
In John 18:28 there is a terrible blend of irony and hypocrisy revealed on the part of those Jews who led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor. The Jews would not enter the palace of a Gentile governor because they wished to remain ceremonially clean in order to be able to partake of the Passover on the following day. Isn’t that just mind boggling?! Of course you know why the Jews went to see Pilate. They were there to seek Roman authority to have Jesus crucified. And why did they want Jesus to be executed? Even an outsider like Pilate could see that Jesus did not deserve execution (John 18:38). He could also see that the real motive behind the Jews’ request was envy (Mark 15:10).
So here was the agenda of the Jews. Number one: get rid of Jesus. Number two: be ready to eat the Passover. Remember what the Passover was about? It commemorated that special and terrible night in Egypt, when the blood of the innocent lamb was spread around the exteriors of the doors of Hebrew believers to prevent the destroying angel from bringing death to such blood-protected homes. It was the night freedom and protection was offered to the Jews through the innocent blood. All subsequent Passover celebrations were to be eaten by grateful, delivered-from-death, dedicated Jewish believers. In John 18, as those “pious” Jews refused to soil themselves externally, they were actually carrying out the slaying of the real Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. How correctly had Jesus accused these men of cleaning the outside of the cup while leaving filth on the inside! In trying to be “clean” ceremonially, while they harbored murder in their hearts, they were effectively “straining out a gnat” in their drink while swallowing a camel (Mt.23:24)! If you are like me, you can’t help but wonder how humans become like this.
But as long as I focus on others, I don’t have to examine myself, do I? I would never pray for unity, while gossiping about my sister or brother in the next breath, would I? I wouldn’t sing about reaching the lost and then be shocked by the unchristian behavior or appearance of those same lost people, would I? I don’t profess my love for God while not giving a hang for those created in His image. I am not the kind of person who would sing about the possibility of dying on a foreign field for Jesus, when I know full well I would never even go on a mission trip for Him, am I? Can I talk freely about meeting the needs of others, yet cry out when my own tastes are not catered to? Do we want people to become Christians, then do nothing to help them grow in Christ? Do I have time for everything in my busy life, but not an extra minute for the work of Jesus through His church? When I won’t lift a finger, but feel free to criticize those that do, am I pleasing God?
You see, when those Jews, of John 18, ate the Passover the day after they had murdered Jesus, they may have been ceremonially clean, but they were spiritually corrupt before God. In keeping ritual, they failed to worship God. If we are content to live our lives without examining our hearts and presenting them to God for His shaping, we, too, are pretending.